SKYKOMISH, Wash. — Stevens Pass ski patrols are taking the current mountain conditions seriously and closed all but two lifts at the ski area Tuesday for good reason.
The Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) has put the majority of the Cascade mountains under a considerable avalanche risk.
That's because over the weekend the mountains experienced cold temperatures and lots of low density, dry snowfall. That, coupled with warmer temperatures on Monday into Tuesday, created wet, heavy snow and even brought rain on top if, which created unstable conditions ripe for an avalanche.
"We had a substantial snow event yesterday, we had 34 inches of snow in the last 48 hours and with some moisture on top of that. Today we just landed in this space of operating on a limited footprint at the resort," said Tom Pettigrew, general manager of Stevens Pass.
The ski resort decided to only open the Brooks Express and Daisy chairs because of the avalanche risk; not only so that skiers and riders didn't access avalanche-prone terrain but also to keep people from under higher peaks where snow could fall.
"Every day we really are looking at the mountain from the safety of our employees and the safety of our guests, it's just paramount in our minds," said Pettigrew.
Over the phone, NWAC meteorologist Robert Hahn said that the backcountry conditions in the mid to upper elevations are dangerous and anyone traveling, hiking or skiing in the backcountry should hold off until conditions settle.
Hahn said that there was a D2.5 rated avalanche west of Stevens Pass on Windy Ridge on Monday.
The team at Stevens Pass is keeping an eye on conditions, too. With the snow level dropping, the hope is that conditions in the ski area will firm up and become more stable overnight so that they can resume regular operations.